Heat pump air conditioners can supply heating to a space by reversing the flow of refrigerant.


An automatic advantage of using heat pumps for heating is that these systems produce more heat than the energy used to operate them, whereas typical heating systems that use fossil fuels or electric resistance cannot. Heat pumps are ideal for systems that exchange heat with a source or sink that is more or less constant throughout the year, and at a temperature close to room temperatures. The most common application uses the ground, which is able to stay at a relatively constant temperature all year, as the source and sink for space conditioning.


Research at WCEC thus far in the area of efficient heat pump systems has focused on the feasibility of using swimming pools as heat sinks for heat pumps, and attempts to answer the following questions:

  • Can swimming pools realistically be used as the source and sink for heat pump applications?
  • How much energy can be saved by systems that reject condenser heat to a pool?
  • What climate zones are most suited for systems that reject condenser heat to a pool?


To answer the research questions above, WCEC developed a model to calculate the heat and mass transfer to and from a swimming pool given weather data, cooling and heating loads, and pool geometry. The model is validated by comparing model predicted pool temperatures to actual pool temperatures observed in two separate experiments, one of which had the influence of thermal loads from a building. WCEC is using the model to run simulations of energy use in various climate zones to determine the energy saving potential of these systems.


WCEC Literature